California Budget Must Protect Underserved Communities, Greenlining Institute Says


By Bruce Mirken,

The governor’s proposal, which represents the starting point for negotiations and could change drastically depending on whether Congress approves aid to states, endangers several programs that could help underserved communities weather the current crisis.

“As they work to finalize a tough budget, legislators and the governor must remember that communities of color and essential workers are being hit hardest by COVID-19,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “Programs that protect health, build community resilience and help spur a just recovery will get the most from every dollar while providing relief to those with the greatest needs.”

Examples of programs that can bring such multiple benefits but which may now be in danger include climate change efforts like low-income weatherization, urban forestry, urban greening and Transformative Climate Communities – which integrates multiple projects in community-led efforts to fight climate change and strengthen the economies of underserved communities. These programs have shown that they combine environmental, health and economic benefits for communities most in need, Greenlining’s policy staff noted, and the May revise leaves their status unclear.

Also uncertain is the proposed climate resilience bond measure. Greenlining still hopes to see such a bond measure, designed to meet a “triple bottom line” of creating genuine economic stimulus, meeting community climate resilience needs and centering equity to support the communities hit hardest by COVID-19 and climate change .

Greenlining is disappointed that the governor proposed to eliminate his earlier proposal to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented seniors. Although this creates a short-term cost saving, the pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need to expand access to health care to all. The May revise also cuts the proposal to create the California Office of Health Care Quality and Affordability, which could play a critical role in improving community health and strengthening equity and cost containment as California copes with COVID-19.

Newsom’s revised budget does offer some important relief for small businesses in communities of color, which have been particularly hard hit. As Greenlining had urged, it increases the California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program to $100 million. It also waives LLC formation fees, another crucial need for diverse small businesses. Greenlining will continue to urge that small business programs be adequately marketed and implemented in communities of color.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit


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